Child Relocation After Divorce
What Is Child Relocation
Child Relocation is the changing of a child’s living arrangements so that it makes it difficult for the child to spend time with both parents.
It is often one of the most common family law questions that we are asked.
If parents have equal and shared parental responsibility, they should try and make a genuine effort to resolve this issue amicably.
If there are no court orders in place, we must look at the legislation and the relevant case law to understand how judges apply the law to individual cases.
The relevant legislation is s65DAA of the Family Law Act.
The section explains the step by step process that the Court is required to follow when considering if a child should be spending equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent.
- According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, 88% of parents applying for relocation orders were women;
- 57% of relocation applications were approved with 43% rejected;
- There is no general rule of thumb as to whether a relocation order will be approved or not;
- A successful application to stop a relocation needs to be timely and treated urgently.
Child Relocation Cases Australia
Rosa’s Case is one of the leading authorities in Australian Family Law when it comes to the relocation of a child.
A mother started an application as she wanted to live in Sydney after her separation with the 5yr old child’s father.
The young family had recently moved to Mt Isa for the father’s new job and had been living there for only 7 months before the mother wanted to move back to Sydney with the child.
The mother lost her Initial Application in court but later won the application on appeal to the High Court.
The initial judge concluded that the child should stay in Mount Isa and that the father’s proposal for both parents to share parental responsibility was in the best interests and welfare of the child.
The Family Consultant also recommended that the child should stay in Mount Isa as it would not be beneficial if the parents of the child lived so far apart.
The High Court then examined the decision and looked at the circumstances of the mother and if the mother relocating to Sydney provided the best outcome for the child.
In Mount Isa, the mother had to live in a caravan park and had limited opportunities for employment. She supported herself by casual employment and Centrelink payments. The mother was angry and depressed as a result of being in Mount Isa.
In Sydney, she had work opportunities with flexible hours and access to her family support.
The mother’s application was successful in the High Court and she was allowed to then relocate to Sydney.
Successful Child Relocation Cases
This case answers many of the family law questions parents ask us, as it shows us how a court processes information and thinks when making a decision about child relocation.
The case also explains the circumstances in which a mother is able to relocate a child, even if it means the child will spend less time with the father.
The court will focus on whether or not the relocation will be in the bests interests of the child.
A successful relocation case for a mother will normally have the following factors:
- The mother is seeking to move to her hometown or place where she has family support
- The mother has little to no family support in the place where she is currently living
- The mother may have financial difficulty supporting herself where she is living
- The mother may have more financial support or job opportunities in the place where she is seeking to relocate
- The father may have very limited time with the children.
How To Prevent My Child From Moving
The most effective way of preventing child relocation is by ensuring that there are parenting orders or a parenting plan in place.
Normally, if there are court orders already in place there will be an order in relation to relocation.
You should check the last set of Court Orders for this. If this is the case, then if a parent wants to move a considerable distance away, they must obtain permission from the Court.
The Court may not necessarily grant permission as they may not be satisfied that moving away from one parent is in the best interests of the child.
You can oppose the application to stop the other parent from relocating and tell the court why you think the child should not be relocated.
If there are no parenting orders in place, contact us today about getting parenting orders organised.
What do I do if my child has already been relocated
If the other parent takes your child without discussing it with you, you can apply to the court for a Recovery Order to return the child to where they normally live.
A recovery order enables police officers to take action to find, recover and return a child to you.
Further, a recovery order can also prohibit the person from again removing or taking possession of the child. This is critical in child relocation cases, as parents may attempt to then remove the child from the other parents care.
If you were to breach this order, you could be if you attempt to remove or retake possession of the child.
You can apply for a recovery order if you have parental responsibility for the child, or someone concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child.
For example, you may be the person who the child lives or spends time with but there is no parenting order that states this.
You should file your application for a recovery order at the Federal Circuit Court.
If there are no current parenting orders, you should apply for one at the same time as applying for a recovery order.
The Court will then either grant or refuse your application for a recovery order.
In deciding whether to make a recovery order, the Court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child.
If you are unsure of whether or not you should apply for a recovery order, speak to one of our lawyers today.
Relocation Family Law
Relocation family law matters are run in either the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia.
You may want to know if a father can take a child from the mother or a mother can take a child from the father.
Relocation family law is not gender specific. Rather, it looks at what is best for the child.
If one parent can argue that relocating to another suburb or city is in the best interests of the child as the child will have more support, better access to schools, relatives and a better lifestyle, then a family law relocation may be permitted.
On the other hand, this will need to be weighed up with whether or not the relationship with the other parent will be at a detriment as the child may not be able to spend more time with that parent due to the long distances between them.